90% of halitosis cases deal with problems related either directly or indirectly to the tongue. This makes sense as this is the first site for incoming, undigested down foods. Under certain conditions such as oral neglect, the tongue can be a breeding grown for bacterial growth. Problems of the tongue aren’t always attributed to poor oral health. Sometimes it can be a reaction to antibiotics, a sign of a more serious medical condition, or problems with the actual tongue anatomy.
The good thing is, many times your tongue will tell you what is going on in your mouth. In a healthy state, your tongue will be a pink color. On the surface there are small nodules called papillae.
Sometimes the tongue turns a white color either completely or in a patchy pattern. There are a few explanations for this:
Oral Thrush: Oral thrush is a yeast infection of the mouth. This occurs when there is an overgrowth of candida (yeast) in the mouth. The overgrowth results in white patches on the surface of the tongue. It is most commonly found in infants and the elderly, particularly denture users. Generally, anti-fungal drugs can be used to combat oral thrush. An HIV infection or AIDS may cause oral thrush.
Leukoplakia: Leukoplakia occurs when there is an overgrowth of cells in the mouth that form white patches on the tongue, gum, and sides of mouth. These patches cannot be easily scraped off and are generally caused by use of tobacco products. Sometimes leukoplakia can be a precursor to cancer. If you feel your case may be cancerous, it is advisable to seek a doctor and have a biopsy performed.
Oral Lichen Planus: If you have a network of white hairs that have a lace-like appearance in your mouth, you may have oral lichen planus. This condition may create a burning or painful sensation. This condition is most commonly found in middle-aged women. It may create painful lesions that can be treated.
In certain cases, the tongue will turn a bright red color. This is known as a strawberry tongue.
Scarlet Fever: Scarlet Fever is a clinically diagnosed disease that causes sore throat, fever and a bright red tongue. It is very similar to strep throat and can be cured with antibiotics. Scarlet fever can be fatal if medical treatment is now sought.
Kawasaki Disease: This is an autoimmune disease that affects children under 5. The exact cause is unknown, but when it is discovered, the child should be hospitalized and treated immediately.
Hairy tongue is what occurs when the papillae of the tongue become overgrown and result in a hair-like appearance. As the papillae grow, the tongue becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. This can occur in people with poor hygiene, but may also be the result of taking antibiotics or chemotherapy. Hairy tongues are also more common in people with diabetes. Sometimes people can have hairy tongue syndrome without any type of pathology at all.
As any breath health specialist will tell you, proper oral care and lifestyle can keep your tongue as healthy as possible. For extra special oral care, you can use a HydroFloss Oral Irrigator. For extreme halitosis cases come visit us at the Center for Bad Breath Treatment. If you can’t make it to our clinic office you can try some of our halitosis treatment kits.
About the Author: Dr. Anthony Dailley conducts research pertaining to halitosis bad breath treatments. He has a degree in Cell & Molecular Biology from San Francisco State University and a dental degree from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry. He offers many products such as Breath Gemz and teeth whitening pens to keep you looking your best.